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Survey: Good news ahead on legal hiring front

By: Daily Record Staff//June 15, 2012

Survey: Good news ahead on legal hiring front

By: Daily Record Staff//June 15, 2012//

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Source: Robert Half Professional Employment Report Q3 2012; Victoria Story, iStock image used with permission

Hiring in the legal field is expected to be strong in the third quarter of 2012, according to the Robert Half Legal Hiring Index.

A recent study indicates that 32 percent of lawyers plan to add legal jobs in the next three months, while only 2 percent anticipate reductions in staff. That yields a net 30-percent hiring increase — up eight points from the second quarter.

The index also reported 84 percent of lawyers are at least somewhat confident in their organizations’ prospects for growth in Q3, up 16 points from Q2.

Respondents will most likely hire:

• lawyers (91 percent);

• paralegals (35 percent); and

• legal secretaries (14 percent).

Practice areas expected to see the most growth in the next three months include:

• general business/corporate law (17 percent);

• labor and employment (17 percent); and

• litigation (14 percent).

The survey is based on telephone interviews with 100 lawyers at law firms with 20 or more employees and 100 corporate lawyers at companies with 1,000 or more employees.

This supports what Elizabeth Hofmeister, director of legal recruiting at Harter Secrest and Emery LLP, is seeing.

“We will be adding five new associates in September,” Hofmeister said. “We also expect that our lateral associate needs will continue to expand.”

At least one local firm, Harris Beach PLLC, said they haven’t made any longer-term decisions as of yet, but did experience growth in certain practice areas as a result of recent hiring.

“We are always looking to hire attorneys in growth practice areas, such as labor, health care, public finance and litigation, and we have hired attorneys in those areas during the past several months,” said Christopher Jagel, managing partner of Harris Beach. “We expect to make hiring decisions this fall for 2013.”

Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal, said: “Law firms are expanding in-demand practice groups to renew their commitment to growth and meet client requests for legal services. … Many firms are launching new service offerings, and this accounts for some of the resulting hiring activity. Commercial law also is picking up, and general litigation remains strong.”

Volkert said that on a national level, small and mid-size law firms are seeking associates with three or more years of experience who can make immediate contributions and support thriving practice areas.

General business/commercial law, and labor and employment law were areas identified by lawyers as targets for growth in Q3.

According to Volkert, corporate legal departments are also hiring in response to a greater volume of work.

“Renewed business activity and new and ongoing regulatory requirements are leading to steady demand for in-house associates and paralegals with contracts administration, compliance, and labor and employment law experience,” Volkert said. “In addition, general counsel are expanding their in-house teams in an effort to curtail spending on outside counsel.”

Employers interviewed expect to add an average of two full-time positions in the next quarter.

“Although many law firms and corporate legal departments are boosting full-time hiring, they’re also responding to immediate needs by engaging legal professionals on a project basis to work on document review and e-discovery initiatives, and to supplement key staff positions,” Volkert said.

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